Published: 16:31 | 10/9/19

O’Driscoll expecting Aki-Henshaw centre partnership


Former Ireland international Brian O'Driscoll expects that Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw will be Joe Schmidt’s first-choice centre partnership for the opening World Cup game in Japan.

Ireland take on Scotland in their Pool A opener in Yokohama on Sunday week and O’Driscoll predicts that the pair, who previously linked up to great effect for Connacht, will be the first choice centre pairing after starting in the win over Wales last weekend.

Garry Ringrose has been a mainstay of the Ireland midfield over the past few years, but could now be under pressure to get the nod for the Scotland game.

Speaking of the former Blackrock College centre, O’Driscoll said: "I thought he'd play at the weekend if he was first choice.

"His tackling stats probably don't stack up. He has a lot of misses, but a lot of it is shutting down potential threats and getting the cover to pick up another tackle or finish one off.

"I don't think he's quite at the Garry Ringrose level we've seen over the last couple of years. So he'll be a bit nervous that he'll be on the bench given the partnership Bundee and Robbie have had since down in Connacht.

"They seem to go quite well and have a good understanding, good offloading game to one another, good defensively. So if you were a betting man you'd probably think that might be the starting centre pairing.

"He [Henshaw] doesn't miss many tackles. I don't know his stats, but watching him he doesn't miss many. His scramble is really exceptional.

"Even, you know the try-saving tackle on Dan Biggar. That’s a phenomenal bit of technique as well as the will within him. They are real markers for coaches as well. The never-say-die attitude, coaches love that.

"Having one of your best defenders is a real luxury. I think Garry's a brilliant reader of it, but Robbie's another level of a defender because he has the aggression and the size in the hit to come with that.

"That element of telepathy, I don't know what the chat is like with Garry, but you feel a real cohesion with Bundee and Robbie."

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